Monday, December 12, 2016

Jac's Travel Tips for 2016.

Hey guys! So I don't know if you have realised this or not, but I have been doing um, quite a fair bit of travelling this year! And i...

Hey guys!

So I don't know if you have realised this or not, but I have been doing um, quite a fair bit of travelling this year!
And it's been great! I've become quite adept at taking long weekends and tagging along on James' business trips. Anyway! I have found that there's always something to learn from each trip you take. So I've made a list on takeaways from the trips I made this year! And I call it...
(with input from James).

#1 Dubai.

We went to Dubai to celebrate the new year! It was going to be the most epic trip ever! We were going to usher in 2016 with lots of alcohol and the most spectacular of fireworks!
(Via Us Zik).

Then this James checked us into the only dry hotel in Dubai. Meaning it did not serve alcohol. Also do you know how difficult it is to buy alcohol off the shelves in Dubai or go to a bar on New Year's Eve in Dubai without prior reservations or paying extravagant entrance fees? Very.
(Via Giphy).

Also The Address burnt down which meant that the streets were swarming with people, and the new hotel that we had checked in for the night (which served alcohol) almost gave away our room because we had taken more than 3 hours to fight through the throngs of people, figure out how to cross 16 lane roads (all the bridges were closed), and walk across highways.

But all worked out in the end.

SO TIP: If you go to Dubai to celebrate the new year, make sure you book a hotel that serves alcohol (very important). And also maybe one that overlooks the Burj Khalifa so that you can watch the fireworks from the hotel instead of fighting with the masses of people who camped there 8 hours before the show started. Oh, it might also be good if know where the fire exits are.

#2 Shanghai.

James went to Shanghai for a business trip in March so I flew over to join him for a long weekend. What? I'm Singaporean! Free hotel, must stay!
(Via Giphy).

So I had to travel to the hotel from the airport alone, which is fine. My Chinese, although deplorable by many senses of the word, is fine when I want to tell people where I want to go. I also have the street smarts. I can like, integrate well with the hoi polloi of any country.
Case in point: me sneaking around Alcatraz like a sneaky prisoner.

Anyway, James had gotten to Shanghai before me. He was at the airport and got directed by an airport official to the taxi counter and took a taxi to his hotel. All was great. Until he went to work and found out that he had paid 3 times the normal amount to get to the city.
(Via Giphy).

SO TIP: If you go to Shanghai (or any Chinese city for that matter), follow the signs that lead to the taxi queue and don't get distracted by airport officials in uniforms and badges who lead you to official counters within the airport. They are scammers who target the gullible-looking people (not me).
Oh and by the way, I'm extremely well versed in ordering Starbucks in Chinese by the way. I have done so in Shanghai, Beijing, Taiwan, and then Shanghai again. Let me know the next time you want to get a Venti Non-Fat Sugar-Free Vanilla Latte in China. I can talk you through it.

#3 Siem Reap.

Neither James nor I had been to Siem Reap, so we thought that we would make the most of our good Friday weekend to take a trip up to see Angkor Wat.
Which is great! But you know getting to know your then-boyfriend's mother on a very packed holiday is not the way to go. Especially when you don't know what to do when your then-boyfriend does something like this:
Okay just take photo.

Also with all moms, she has the uncanny ability to push James' buttons. And it's not really what you want when you are trying to have a nice relaxing holiday with no recovery period before going back to work. So this trip to Siem Reap, I learnt that having a French guy return an ATM card to your boyfriend's mom is NOT something you want to experience.

SO TIP: It's great if your boyfriend's mom can join you for a short holiday, as long as the both of you have some days to recover after that.

#4 California.

This was a trip that we had planned with James' sister and brother (which probably explains why it was longer than 5 days). It was awesome. We went to Six Flags, learnt how to Ski, and did the whole driving down the Pacific Coast in a Mustang thing. Yeah man. The first car I drove for more than 1 km after I passed my driving license was a Ford Mustang.
And we headed to Vegas. We took a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and it was FREAKING AMAZING.
And then we headed to the Stratosphere and went on all the rides. I had a great time and bought a photo.
All I heard was, "Smile for the camera!" So I smiled. All they, and James especially, heard were the voices in their head saying "PLEASE NO!!!"

SO TIP: When you go to theme parks, get your Singaporean on. Follow all the rules to a T so that your girlfriend won't charge $18 to your credit card to buy a photo to buy herself a license to laugh at you for the rest of your life.

#5 Perth.

So James was in Perth for a week and I joined him for the weekend. I bought a Scoot flight scheduled to land in Perth at 5 pm, just in time to join James for dinner. And then we would leave together on the Sunday afternoon flight.
(Via  We Know Memes).

Then the Scoot flight got delayed and I only manage to land in Perth at like, 9 pm. Not so good when you only have so many hours to spare.
But we still had a really awesome weekend, and managed to get a lot done.
Us at the Pinnacles! Alex aptly captioned it, "Two Asian girls with shiny glasses and two white guys in aviators take a selfie".

Like splashing around in my leather boots. James was not impressed.
SO TIP: Some boots have zips at the side, and water can enter through the zips. So if you want to splash around in the water, recognise that boots are not wellies and you can't go prancing around in puddles without racking up a pretty hefty cleaning bill.

#6 Bintan.

We went to Bintan to celebrate the marriage of the wonderful Darren and Michelle.
James arrived 2.5 hours later than me. No we didn't go separately. It's just we were in the queue to collect our tickets at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal when James realised he forgot his passport.
SO TIP: Unless you want to spend a very frantic and expensive taxi ride home and back, don't forget your passport. Although as James found, $5 will upgrade your ticket to Emerald class. But if you check in into the same room at Angsana Beach Resort, they for some reason might accidentally decorate your bed by mistake.

#7 Penang.

James, his dad and I went to Penang for a long weekend! It was extremely fun.
Us on Penang Hill.

Anyway, there are lots of good animals in Penang. But the thing about animals like cats, is that they prefer older men ok. Like James' dad.
They lose interest in me very quickly. I think mainly because I tell them that I love them and I want to smuggle them to Singapore. Anyway, I was very upset that the cats preferred James' dad over me. So James brought to me a cat cafe and bought me cat food to bribe the cats with.
James' dad judging me as I exchange cat food for feline attention.

SO TIP: So if you're not a retiree, you have to pay for cat food or no cats will ever fawn over you.

#8 Wales.

James brought me to visit his family in the UK, and took me on a little road trip to Wales while we were there.
We woke up bright and early one morning and decided to climb Pen y Fan, the highest peak in south Wales. Because why not? The weather was great, a little bit of fog, but the forecast said that it would clear within the hour.

So up we went. And it only took us 15 minutes before we were engulfed in a cloud of fog. And that's how we spent the next 3 hours of our climb.
We must have looked like jokers in our jeans and flimsy tops when the locals were all geared up with puffy windbreakers and climbing poles.

SO TIP: Make sure there's not a single cloud in the sky before you attempt any Welsh mountains. Or wear so many layers of clothes that you can barely move your legs. That's my advice to you.

#9 Somewhere in France.

We (when I say we, I mean James) drove to Aix-en-Provence to visit his friends. They were really friendly and good. Also they have a really cute daughter. She's very cheerful and went around collecting snails for me. She's also cuter than my nephew.
Everything was great! Except for the drive there and back. We were using his dad's old Toyota and when I say old, I mean, would-have-been-scraped-a-few-years-back-in-Singapore old. So it didn't go very fast (which still did not stop James from getting a speeding ticket), but it would have been nice to have air con.

The south of France is like a FURNACE in the summer. And the car was like a greenhouse in the furnace. The only way around it was to open the windows and let blasts of furnace air blow against your face. Which also means that you can't talk or listen to music while you drive along for 5 hours (which may have James' cunning idea - an excuse to not listen to my ranting or my trashy hip-hop).
I mean 8 hours. There was a 2 hour jam at the tolls. Without aircon.
SO TIP: Make sure your car has air-con if you're driving around du sud de la France. And also get one of the EU IU devices for your car so that you won't be stuck in the tolls for hours.

#10 Rome.

We flew to Rome from France because James felt that it was unfair to pack in two week's worth of back-to-back family visiting. I didn't mind, but you know, who would say no to a Roman holiday?
I love Rome. Rome is great! But sadly, that's the general sentiment amongst people across the gobe. Which can make things rather packed.
Crowd in St Peter's Basilica, spot the Ang Moh James! (James just pointed out that I can't play "Spot the Ang Moh" if everyone is Ang Moh).
Crowd in the Pantheon, spot James!

And queues and crowds can be quite painful. James hates crowds. And the only thing he hates more than crowds is queueing. So this James wanted to just turn up at the Vatican, get tickets, and go in. SIAO. Have you seen the queues at the Vatican?
Luckily there was a shrewd Singaporean who ordered tickets for the both of us.

SO TIP: Buy your tickets in advance here. You pay an additional 4€ per booking in admin charges, but as two guys in front of us at the security check put it, "Best 2€ I've ever spent."

#11 Oslo.

So James headed to Oslo for a business trip and I tagged along because as mentioned earlier, I subscribe to the policy of "free hotel must stay".
(Via Giphy).

It was great! Except for one thing. It was fine when James was going to the main office near Oslo City, but his conference hotel was located in Asker. I met some girls at a pole dancing class and they were like, "Asker? What's there in Asker?!"
(Via Giphy).

Well they are mostly right. I mean there's a lake but it's useless in the winter when there's freezing cold rain blowing down on you. There's also a supermarket a 10 minute walk away but apart from that, really nothing.
Me entertaining myself in Asker.

SO TIP: Don't go to Asker in the winter. Go in the summer when it's nice and the thought of jumping into a lake is more appealing rather than a death wish.

#12 Tokyo.

So I don't know if you heard, but WE'RE GOING TO TOKYO FOR NEW YEAR! We just booked out tickets last week and DAMN are tickets expensive. They were like what? $3k+ for a round trip for the two of us on Cathay Pacific or just $2k from Tokyo and back on Malaysian Airlines - only the business class seats were left. JAL wasn't an option because their flights back to Singapore over the new year are completely sold out!

And I have not enough leave. Yes. I do have limitations when it comes to leave.
(Via Giphy).

Yes, it's true. And I know you're going "Jac, this flight with Air Asia/Jet Start/insert name of other airline is still available and quite reasonable." But NO, you don't understand. We have to take flights with oneworld alliance to get points on our Qatar Airways Privilege Club membership. ANYWAY, I camped online like on all ALL the oneworld alliance websites hoping that someone with an economy class ticket would cancel and finally, SOMEONE DID.
AND WE BOOKED IT!! And I was so excited that we were going to Tokyo until I saw this on
There was literally no vacancy left in hotels in the city. Like, REALLY. Well, I found one on my phone, and a rather good one that is. But by the time we reached home it was gone. So now we're staying at two hotels over the period of our vacation.

SO TIP: Unless you like the thrill of last minute bargain hunting and trawling though twenty million travel sites, book your tickets for the new year at least 3 months in advance.

So I've come to the end of my post! If you have cool tips for celebrating New Year in Tokyo, please let me know! And here's a nice song about sexy beaches. Take it as a thank you in advance.

Have a good week ahead guys!
❤ Jac.

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